The Role of women in Johannine literature : an exegetical study
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The role of women in Johannine literature appears to be unique in a number of ways. Firstly, in the Gospel of John, there is a different presentation accorded to women in comparison to the Synoptics. John gives a lengthy and a wider discussion on Jesus’ encounter with women, which ranges from a longer passage to a whole chapter. Another significant point here is that John’s accounts on women are unparalleled in the synoptics. Other evidences that cannot be ignored are that in his presentation of women, John depicts them in direct dialogue with Jesus. Secondly, in the Epistle of 2 John, the use of “woman” is no longer literal but symbolic in which sense the author likens the woman to a church. Thirdly, the book of Revelation presents women in a symbolic perspective whereby they represent the church, both false and righteous, and crowns their role as pointing to the city of the New Jerusalem. There were four focus issues that not only informed the statement of the problem, but gave the study a technical framing as well. What are the roles of women in Johannine writings? How does John present women in his writings? What is his purpose in the way he presents them? Lastly, is there a continuous connection in the role of women in the way John presents them? In light of these issues, the study purposed to ascertain the role of women in John’s writings with a view of identifying their participation in relation to the main themes of the literature under study. As such, specific passages were selected for study as outlined in the paper proper. The flow of the study was such that Chapter 1 covered the introductory aspects of the study while Chapter 2 surveyed roles of women in various periods of human history spanning from ancient Mesopotamia down to the Greco-Roman era. The outcome of Chapter 2 indicated that women participated in social, economic, religious, and leadership roles within the patriarchal framework which prevailed both in Ancient Near East and Israel. As this was the case in Mesopotamia and ancient Israel, women’s roles diminished tremendously during late Judaism. The opposite was true with the coming of Jesus in the 1st century AD. While Chapter 3 dealt with the main study of the selected passages in Johannine writings, Chapter 4 covered the theological context of the study. Chapter 5 was the summary and conclusion of the findings. From Johannine literature, there is a lot of information with regard to the role of women. Women play a unique role in that they set a paradigm of committed and faithful followers of Jesus. This in turn makes them Jesus’ followers, witnesses, messengers, and active participants in His ministry. It is inescapable to note here too that women set a counterpoint to men in regard to their participation in the ministry of Jesus. Men are either passive or are portrayed as doubtful in their roles. Therefore, women’s role in Johannine writings is both significant and unique as it enjoys the support of the said literature.